What Washington State University has meant to me

James Snook-US PRESSWIRE

Yesterday, Michael Preston gave his excellent and poignant commencement speech to WSU alums. As a future WSU alum, I decided to take this opportunity to give my own personal reflection of my time at Washington State.

This Saturday, at precisely 3 PM, I meet my doom.

Ever since I could remember, I had my game plan laid out for me. I would go to school, go to college, graduate and get a job. That’s what was expected of me and anything else would have been a disappointment. My high school was established by where I lived, but my college was established by a unique combination of bloodline and passion.

My father never went to college, but he had been a Cougar fan for as long as I can remember. I always had to choice to go somewhere else, with the knowledge that my dad firmly preferred that I go to WSU. My sister took that opportunity and went to a private school in Pennsylvania. It seemed like a great place and she got a great education, but that just wasn't what I wanted to do.

For me, there was really no decision to make. From the first time I set foot on campus in 2006, to watch WSU football fall to California 21-3, I knew this was the only school for me. The campus was beautiful, the community was more than I ever imagined and they had one of the best broadcasting programs in the nation. Pullman was were I wanted to be and from that point on, there was no turning back.

After that, I made the trip east as often as possible. I attended every preview event I could. I came to so many that when I applied to be a tour guide my freshman year, the interviewer recognized my name from seeing it so many times on paperwork. For some reason I still don’t comprehend, I didn't get the job. Every spring from 2007 to 2010, my dad and I took a four day weekend and came over to tour the campus on a Friday afternoon. It just so happened that these weekends coincidentally coincided with a Thursday/Saturday Pac-10 home basketball series, usually against USC and UCLA.

When it came time to apply for colleges, WSU was the first and only place I applied to. Because of their guaranteed admission policy, I didn't have to worry about getting in. At the urging of my mom and sister, I looked into other schools. On a vacation to LA, we arranged a tour at Cal State Fullerton because, why not. We got to campus and drove around for more than a half an hour on a failed quest to find a parking spot. Eventually we gave up and probably drove to in-and-out without giving the tour a second thought. Nothing against the fighting Titans of Cal State Fullerton, but my mind was made up and there was no changing it.

For the first time, I was on my own. But that didn't last long.

In August of 2010, my parents dropped me off. They helped me move into my room on the second floor of Scott Hall and drove off into the sunset. For the first time, I was on my own. But that didn't last long. I met tons of people and grew closer because of the close knit community that this school develops. We adapted to college life together. We camped out for hours in the freezing cold to see the Cougs play Kansas State at Beasley. We stayed up all night to play Mario Kart 64 on my 19 inch TV. We went to football games, sang the fight song, did homework and suffered through 8 AM freshman year classes.

As the years went on, the classes started to align with your major and started to be more and more interesting. I started to take broadcasting classes and grew closer to the people I spent countless hours shooting video and editing with. We started spending less time at Up All Nights and more time at The Coug and Valhalla. We spent more money on beer and less money on actually buying those "required" text books. We spent more time working and bonding in the edit suites than we did in our own apartments. The further along in school you get, the more you realize just how special your WSU experience is and the closer you get to others at the school.

Then, just like that… It’s over. In a moment coming my way very soon, sooner than I’d like, you drive down 195 towards Colfax and see the best place on Earth in your rearview mirror. In front of you? A scary place full of darkness and the unknown called "the real world." Goodbye Wing Wednesday, I'll miss you far more than I probably should.

This Saturday, at precisely 3 PM, I meet my doom. For the first time, my life is not laid out for me. I have no idea what the future holds, no idea what I’m doing and no idea where I’m going and that’s a scary prospect to say the least. The one thing that helps me in this situation is the fact that I went to Washington State University. This school has prepared me for everything ahead. I've met some amazing friends that will support me through whatever comes my way. I've met some amazing mentors that will help me with any conflicts that may be presented to me. I've gotten some amazing opportunities that have provided me with invaluable experience that will only help me down my career path. Most of all, I know that I’m part of the best community available anywhere. Where ever I go and whatever I decide to do, I know that the Cougar family will be there to support me and help me whenever possible.

This Saturday’s graduation may be the end of my time in Pullman, but it’s also a new beginning. And I can’t wait to see what comes my way.

With graduation right around the corner, we'd love to hear your memories. What did this school mean to you and what advice do you have for future graduates? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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